Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas. Carbon monoxide is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, and can kill can kill you before you are aware it is in your home or vehicle. The effects of carbon monoxide exposure can vary greatly from person to person depending on age, overall health and the concentration and length of exposure. Over 40,000 people a year seek medical attention for carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States. In the U.S., an estimated 200 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning associated with home fuel-burning heating equipment. Each year, more than 500 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recently Coleman heaters have been linked to Carbon dioxide deaths.
The earliest symptoms, particularly from low level exposures, are often non-specific and are easily confused with other illnesses, typically flu-like viral syndromes, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, and migraine or other headaches. Often this makes the diagnosis of carbon monoxide poisoning difficult. If suspected the diagnosis can be confirmed by measurement of blood carboxyhemoglobin.
The main signs of poisoning develop in the organ systems most dependent on oxygen use: the central nervous system and the heart. The clinical manifestations include tachycardia and hypertension, and central nervous system symptoms such as headache, dizziness, confusion, convulsions, and unconsciousness. Carbon dixoxide poisoning may also produce myocardial ischemia, atrial fibrillation, pneumonia, pulmonary edema, hyperglycemia, muscle necrosis, acute renal failure, skin lesions, visual and auditory problems, and respiratory arrest.
One of the main concerns following carbon dioxide poisoning is the severe neurological manifestations that may occur days or even weeks after an acute poisoning. Common problems encountered are difficulty with higher intellectual functions and short-term memory, dementia, irritability, gait disturbance, speech disturbances, parkinson-like syndromes, cortical blindness, and depression (depression can occur in those accidentally exposed).
Long term, and repeat exposures present a greater risk to persons with coronary heart disease and in pregnant patients. Chronic exposure may increase the incidence of cardiovascular symptoms in some workers i.e. motor vehicle examiners, firefighters, and welders. Patients often complain of persistent headaches, lightheadedness, depression, confusion, and nausea. Upon removal from exposure the symptoms usually resolve.
Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters; leaking chimneys and furnaces; back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces; gas stoves; generators and other gasoline powered equipment; automobile exhaust from attached garages; and tobacco smoke are all sources of carbon monoxide.
Legal Help For Victims Affected By Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If you or a loved one suffered a wrongful death as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from a defective Coleman heater, contact Parker & Waichman, LLP for a free and confidential consultation about your potential case. Call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) or fill out the short form to the right.